46 of the UK’s best teenage technologists and scientists have been crowned winners at the 2017 TeenTech Awards. 20 incredible ideas – including a hand-held cancer detector, dissolvable chewing gum and floating cities – were selected for their innovative concepts, incredible prototypes and thorough research.
TeenTech runs the award each year, working with leading industry partners that challenges young people aged 11-18 to develop solutions to key societal, health and environmental issues using the power of science, technology and engineering.
For the second year running, girls lead the charge, with females making up over 60% of the winners. That’s despite research by the WISE campaign revealing four in five (79%) of science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM) jobs in the UK continue to be held by men. Figures from the Women’s Engineering Society, also show the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe.
The winning projects were chosen by a panel of judges made up of celebrities, journalists and eminent academics, including BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Click reporter Kate Russell and Scientist and TV Presenter Fran Scott. Dragon’s Den host Evan Davis, Channel 4’s Dr Christian Jessen, Sky presenter Gemma Morris, and celebrity physicist Brian Cox, also met students on the day. Champions will be invited to a reception with His Royal Highness the Duke of York KG at Buckingham Palace in the autumn term.
Schools from London, South Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Suffolk, Cheshire, Carmarthenshire and Inverclyde were named amongst the finalists. Leicestershire and London were the top regions with each area, winning five categories apiece. For the first time, UK students taking part were also joined this year by teams from Spain, Finland and Hungary. Hungary won the international category with Elte Trefort Ágoston High School’s idea for an app based remote control for the smart home.
The Light Ray team from Alton Convent School were voted The TeenTech People’s Choice by attending finalists for their wearable that detects UV rays. Karen Kelly of Notre Dame School in Inverclyde, Scotland was named Teacher of the Year after two of her school’s projects won categories at the awards.
Last year’s TeenTech finalists Emma and Harry who hosted the ceremony, have gone on to work directly with industry leaders on their ideas. Harry who won two categories last year with his reimagining of the humble hairdryer is now in talks with a major manufacturer to bring his idea to life. Emma, who went on to win The Big Bang, has been offered a grant from Aviva to work further on her idea for a motion sensing glove that translated sign language into speech.
Previous finalists in the TeenTech Awards include Lauren and Lucy from Alton who, in October, were officially crowned 2016’s ‘Teen Heroes of the year’ by BBC Radio 1 in front of a 10,000-strong crowd at Wembley. The two girls came up with an idea for an intelligent medical shuttle and now act as TeenTech Young Ambassadors to other schools. At just 17 years old Lauren has been named in the Top 50 Engineers Under 35 by The Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and The Telegraph. Other award participants have gone on to win Arkwright and Bloomberg scholarships, while TeenTech projects have also won ‘Young Engineer of the Year’ for the last two years in a row.
With the right support and encouragement, young people are more than capable of shaping their own future – Maggie Philbin OBE, TeenTech co-founder and Tomorrow’s World presenter
TeenTech co-founder and Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin OBE says: “This is the fifth annual TeenTech Awards and we’re constantly blown away by the standard of entries. 2017 has been no exception and we’re seeing again how with the right support and encouragement, young people are more than capable of shaping their own future.
‘The Awards are without doubt the highlight of the TeenTech calendar and really sum up what we’re about: embracing creative talent; putting youngsters face-to-face with industry professionals; and inspiring them to see the power and potential of their ideas. It’s also exciting to see the girls continuing to buck STEM traditions by leading the way.”